The Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Iowa State is an opportunity for students to participate in real-world research programs across many disciplines.
The Research Experience concept is a broad horizon of research programs and opportunities such as the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals organization, which enrolls 14 students each year.
Stephen Gilbert, who organizes student researchers in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering said about 270 students apply annually for his research team, which is only a 10-slot team.
Though the research programs are lead by Iowa State, students are selected throughout the country and the majority of programs take place off-site.
Anne Patterson, senior in biology, participated in a behavioral biology project through a program called "Euroscholars." Patterson was located at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and said she enjoyed the project because not only did she gain valuable research experience but was also able to learn about a different culture.
Patterson’s Research Experience program was coordinated through study abroad, but many of the programs take place much closer to home.
These programs ISU students have access to are unique experiences that should be taken advantage of, Gilbert said.
“Those students who can take the initiative [through Research Experience] really get my attention," said Michelle Soupir, an assistant professor who leads an Research Experience program in agricultural and biosystems engineering.
Patterson said the experience she gained through Research Experience was irreplaceable.
“I gained so much confidence,” Patterson said. “I feel really well prepared for graduate school now.”
Sam Condon, senior in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, participated in Research Experience through the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program, and studied at the University of Albany in New York.
“I got a lot of experience with techniques I’ve never used before,” Condon said.
Participating in undergraduate research programs is equivalent to receiving an advanced degree, Gilbert said, because of the invaluable experience gained.
“If you do research, you’re doing something that matters,” Gilbert said. “[Research Experience] is like a baby master’s degree program in 10 weeks.”